Home | Food Safety | How to Tell If Potatoes are Bad

How to Tell If Potatoes are Bad

If you’re like me, you probably have a few potatoes lurking in the back of your pantry. You bought them with the best intentions, but somehow they’ve ended up neglected and forgotten.

The other day, I decided it was time to use them up. But when I went to grab one from the bag, I noticed that it was starting to sprout some little eyes.

I wondered, are my potatoes bad? And if so, what can I do with them?

In this blog post, I’ll answer those questions and give you some tips on how to tell if potatoes are bad.

Bowl of raw Yukon potatoes on a dark background

3 Ways to tell if a potato has gone bad

No one likes to find a rotten potato in their pantry. Luckily, there are some telltale signs that will let you know if a potato has gone bad. Here are some ways to tell if a potato has gone bad.

1. Check Skin

If your potatoes are soft and wrinkled it’s probably time to discard them. Additionally, check for bumps, bruises, and mold on the skin – if there are any indicators of spoilage (eg. large bruises or deep black spots), toss them out immediately.

As you peel the potatoes keep an eye on the flesh as well. If you want some tips on how to peel a potato I have got you covered!

2. Smell Potatoes

Smell the potatoes to check for a pungent earthy aroma and if you notice a musty smell like mildew, it is time to throw away the potatoes as they have gone bad.

If there is an overpowering sour or rotten smell coming from the potatoes, it’s best not to consume them as they may also contain harmful bacteria that could make you sick if eaten raw or undercooked in certain cases.

3. Feel potatoes

When potatoes start to go bad, they usually develop a soft spot on the inside. To check if your potato has gone bad, lightly press on the flesh of the potato. If it feels mushy, then it has gone bad.

Are sprouted potatoes okay to eat?

Sprouted potatoes can be safe to eat as long as you remove the sprouts and check them for other signs of spoilage. The flesh of the potato will start to feel soft after it has sprouted, so it’s best to eat them quickly before they deteriorate further.

Be sure to inspect the rest of the potato for signs of deterioration as the sprouts can contain solanine – a digestive irritant – which can be poisonous in larger quantities if ingested in large amounts over time.

What are the different types of potatoes?

While all potatoes will resemble the same characteristics when they have gone bad, there are many varieties of them and they are all unique in their own ways.

Some are sweet and great for both savory and sweet dishes whereas others are best to stick with savory dishes only. Here are a few of the most common potatoes you will find at your local grocery store.

1. Idaho potatoes

Idaho potatoes are medium to large in size, with golden-brown skin and white flesh. They have a mild flavor and are low in sodium and calories. Idaho potatoes are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins. They also contain antioxidants that promote good health. Additionally, Idaho potatoes have a low glycemic index which means they do not raise blood sugar levels rapidly after eating them.

2. Russet potatoes

Russet potatoes are a type of potato with an elongated shape, brownish-yellow skin, and whitish flesh.

Russet potatoes should be avoided if they are soft, mushy, smell moldy, are shriveled/wrinkled or have long sprouts. They should also be avoided if they have developed bruising or are stinky or turning green.

3. Red Potatoes

Red potatoes are a type of potato that has red skin hence the name.

Red potatoes should be firm, without any soft spots or signs of mold. They should also have no shriveled or long sprouts. If they do, it means they are past their prime and should not be consumed.

5. Sweet potatoes and yams

Sweet potatoes and yams are both types of tubers that have a sweet taste and can be used in savory dishes, desserts, and other sweet dishes.

Yams are larger than sweet potatoes, with thicker skin and white flesh instead of orange. They also have a higher starch content than sweet potatoes, which makes them more suitable for baking or frying instead of eating as is.

What happens if you eat bad potatoes?

If you eat bad potatoes, they can contain solanine, a chemical that can cause paralysis or make you very sick (vomiting, diarrhea). They may also contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

The effects of eating bad potatoes include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps in more serious cases up to and including hospitalization or death in the worst-case scenario.

This is why it is so important to know whether your potatoes are good to eat or have already gone bad.

How long are potatoes good for?

Potatoes can last a long time if stored properly. In ideal conditions, potatoes can last for several months.

At room temperature, potatoes last a few weeks. After they have been cooked they can be stored in a tightly sealed container and last about 3 – 4 days.

Check out my post on how long do mashed potatoes last for more information.

What is the best way to store potatoes?

Ideally, potatoes should be stored at a cool temperature (42 – 50°F), in darkness, with high humidity (around 90 -95% relative humidity).

The key to keeping potatoes usable is proper storage away from light and heat sources.

It is possible to freeze cooked potatoes in some cases but they may lose some flavor or texture depending on the type of potato and how it was originally prepared before freezing.

Have you ever wondered, can you freeze sweet potatoes? I have a post showing you just how to do it and you can follow these steps for any variety of potatoes.


Soft russet potatoes are not considered safe to eat as they may have gone bad due to mold or sprouting.
Additionally, soft potatoes can develop bruising which could be a sign of poor quality. Therefore it is best to avoid eating soft russet potatoes in order to avoid potential health risks associated with them

Potatoes can turn green due to exposure to sunlight, which speeds up the natural process of creating chlorophyll.
The increased production of chlorophyll results in a higher concentration of solanine in greening potatoes. Eating these potatoes can cause gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and stomach cramps as well as neurological concerns such as dizziness and paralysis.

To determine if potatoes are bad, you should aim to provide an optimum environment and avoid fruits that emit ethylene gas. If you are able to do this, you can store them for up to two or three months.

Online Cooking for Beginners Course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *